He knew her too well, and that was a terrifying thing. Emma Swan didn't let anyone in. Ever. She'd tried, once, long ago. A little girl so desperate for a family to love her and raise her properly. She'd given so much of herself and been denied, time and again. The only family who'd really bothered trying had sent her back just as soon as they had a baby of their own. And that's where the trust was broken, that's where the walls were built, and a girl, not even old enough to remember most things, already knew she didn't want anyone piercing a tough exterior.
But he had. Damn him, he had, and she couldn't shake him. Maybe that's why she'd gone to him in the first place, despite knowing what he was and what part he'd eventually have to ask her to play. He'd already gotten too close. And maybe she needed to keep her friends close and her enemies closer. Maybe she was just so thankful someone had taken the time to get through the barriers she put up that she let him, even if it was him. Or maybe she was just so damned helpless against him when he turned on the charm. She might never know.
That stare of his was intense. It always was. Practiced and refined, she knew, and she also knew that he knew how it got to her. No one made eye contact like that anymore. But they should. Oh, they should. They'd get what they wanted a lot more easily if they did.
Emma released a slow breath and reached out, lightly touching his cheek. "You know I'm not going anywhere. Thought we decided that. I'm here, aren't I?" She gave a tiny little laugh. "Literally, it seems. You've got me. I made my choice, I've got to stand by it." Surely he knew what was off limits, though? No. No, he didn't. Jim had no limits. And she'd be lying if she said that didn't scare her, at least a little.